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Contractibility and the Design of Research Agreements

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  • Josh Lerner
  • Ulrike Malmendier

Abstract

We analyze how contractibility affects contract design. A major concern when designing research agreements is that researchers use their funding to subsidize other projects. We show that, when research activities are not contractible, an option contract is optimal. The financing firm obtains the option to terminate the agreement and, in case of termination, broad property rights. The threat of termination deters researchers from cross-subsidization, and the cost of exercising the termination option deters the financing firm from opportunistic termination. We test this prediction using 580 biotechnology research agreements. Contracts with termination options are more common when research is non-contractible. (JEL D86, L65, O31, O34)

Suggested Citation

  • Josh Lerner & Ulrike Malmendier, 2010. "Contractibility and the Design of Research Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 214-246, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:214-46
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.214
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital

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